Sitting is the New Smoking – And it is Even a Problem for Runners!

Sitting is the New Smoking

We all know that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy. You know what I mean: the lifestyle of driving to work, sitting at a desk, and watching TV at night. According to the Mayo clinic, there are significant risks of death in general and specific ailments such as heart disease and risk of obesity among those who are sedentary. In fact, they said that prolonged inactivity can have such a devastating impact on health and the body that it should be considered a disease! Serious stuff!

In addition to just being sedentary, there is what is called ‘Silicon Valley Syndrome’ – sitting at a computer all day and hunching to use our smartphones and tablets. These lead to eye strain, poor posture and back pain – which I talked about here.

In addition to back issues, the article says:

Eye strain is the most common ailment, followed by back back pain, neck pain, headaches, wrist pain, carpal tunnel, and insomnia.

The report notes that women are more likely to report these symptoms than men – and more likely to try to treat them with a pill. Another interesting finding separates older and younger computer users:

Young Americans are three times as likely as older Americans to cut back on their use of gadgets when they start getting those aches and pains. In contrast, older Americans were twice as likely to take prescription medications to alleviate their symptoms.

The basic solution is to get up and move – when talking on the phone, stand up. Try to have ‘walk & talk’ meetings. Take more circuitous routes to and from the coffee machine and rest room. Drink water rather than coffee or soda – and drink enough that you are having to get up at least once per hour.

But hey, I’m a runner, doing 50+ miles per week … so I don’t need to worry, right? Well, apparently that is NOT TRUE! According to Runner’s World,

“Up until very recently, if you exercised for 60 minutes or more a day, you were considered physically active, case closed,” says Travis Saunders, a Ph.D. student and certified exercise physiologist at the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. “Now a consistent body of emerging research suggests it is entirely possible to meet current physical activity guidelines while still being incredibly sedentary, and that sitting increases your risk of death and disease, even if you are getting plenty of physical activity. It’s a bit like smoking. Smoking is bad for you even if you get lots of exercise. So is sitting too much.”

Ugh …

I DO try to be up as much as possible at work, walking around and keeping myself from being TOO sedentary. But most of my job is experimental design and data analysis … which are ‘tied to your desk’ activities. So I definitely need to focus more on this!

What about you – how do YOU keep moving?

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4 thoughts on “Sitting is the New Smoking – And it is Even a Problem for Runners!

  1. Unfortunately, this describes me pretty well! I workout several hours a week, but the rest of the time I’m pretty sedentary, sitting in front of a computer or a TV much of the time. I do try to walk around when I’m on conference calls, unless I have to also be in front of the computer (which sadly, is often the case).

  2. I think that the ‘sitting is smoking’ thing is a bit alarmist, but it is a reminder of how many of our lives have shifted to being primarily sitting in a chair all day long. And perhaps that, along with the health & safety department at bigger companies having efforts to get people up and moving during the day … will be enough to make people aware.

    I think that many people who do exercise are ‘movement oriented’. I park at the far end of the parking lot, use rest rooms that are not the closest to me, and generally try to inconvenience myself a bit to force myself to move more.

  3. When I was still working most of my day was spent at a desk staring at a computer but I found when I walked away from the emails, reports, etc and got on the floor with my team I felt better at the end of the day. Partly from being around great people, partly from getting off of my butt and moving. The Mister had a boss who took all of the chairs out of the boardroom and made everyone stand. It kept the meetings short and to the point because people wanted to get out of there and back to their desks. 😀

  4. Definitely agree with that – I was recently transitioning between projects and finishing some analysis and paperwork, and that was WAY too much ‘butt time’ … glad when I am on my feet more!

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